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Topher Grace

Topher Grace was not a born actor. In fact, other than being Topher Grace, he wasn’t really a born anything.

“Undecided wasn’t just my major, it was my mantra,” Grace remembers from his freshman year in college.

Now 27, Grace has grown into one of film’s more capable and nuanced young actors, winning critical praise in “Traffic” and “In Good Company” while earning a pivotal role in the upcoming blockbuster “Spider-Man 3.” For all this success, Grace credits seven educational years playing Eric Forman on “That ’70s Show.”

You know what they say: Sitcoms make the man.

“The best boot camp/graduate school for acting,” Grace says. “I would tell any young actor that’s getting involved — assuming any of them have a choice — to definitely do a sitcom first.”

Grace was about as green as they come when he got hired on ” ’70s.” He was discovered the previous year in a high school play that he appeared in with the daughter of ” ’70s” co-creators Bonnie and Terry Turner.

“I had only done the play because I had sprained my ankle in tennis twice,” Grace says. “It was so weirdly fortuitous.”

He obviously possessed some natural ability, but living in the ” ’70s” graced Grace with on-the-job training at its best.

“When I first started I was super-nervous, and that gave me a cool kind of energy,” Grace says. “I don’t even remember shooting some scenes; I was so into it. A couple of weeks later I wasn’t nervous anymore — and that made me really nervous, and I tried to manufacture this nervous energy. After a season, I learned to relax and just be.”

Grace points out that ” ’70s” frequently gave Grace and his co-star Laura Prepon moments of tenderness that tested their ability to shift gears emotionally. By the time “In Good Company” was filming, ” ’70s” had schooled Grace well.

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